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Silver joins push to block student-data sharing plan

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) during a news

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) during a news conference at the Capitol. (May 20, 2013) (Credit: AP)

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on Thursday called on the state Education Department to suspend a plan to share student data with a private high-tech corporation, lending significant political muscle to a burgeoning movement.

Silver (D-Manhattan) and more than 40 other Assembly Democrats signed a letter to Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. saying they had “serious concerns about the potential flaws” in a plan to share data with inBloom, a nonprofit Atlanta-based corporation.

The new data system would store records for some 2.3 million students, including academic and disciplinary reports, using "cloud" technology. The corporation is funded largely by a $100 million contribution from a family foundation of software billionaire Bill Gates.

Silver said the Democrats don’t have confidence that the company can protect students’ identifiable information from “falling into the wrong hands.”

“Until we are confident that this information can remain protected, the plan to share student data with inBloom must be put on hold,” Silver said in a statement.

State Education Department officials didn’t immediately comment.

The Assembly push comes one week after Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan (R-East Northport) introduced a bill to delay the plan to hand over records to inBloom by one year and sharply curtail the scope of records provided.

Flanagan's proposal would restrict inBloom's ability to collect data by allowing local school districts to opt out of participation. It also would create a new “Parents’ bill of Rights” on privacy issues.

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